14 November 2005

Bloodletting

A Google Alert came my way about how Microsoft was having success using the Scrum methodology.

The responses on slashdot reminded me of a talk given here in May by Craig Larman about Iterative and Incremental software development. In it, Craig had a couple of great slides about Bloodletting. This, of course, was a medical practice that was supposed to cleanse the body of all things evil and cure the patient by draining some of their blood. Quite often, though, rather than saving the patient it killed them! For example the first President of the US, George Washington, died less than 24 hours after a bloodletting session to cure laryngitis.

Regardless, bloodletting was used for centuries until about 150 years ago when more rigorous scientific study began to show that the practice was harmful rather than helpful. However, even into the 1920's bloodletting was used to treat pneumonia. There was a significant backlash to the notion that bloodletting was harmful and its opponents were vilified for stating such heresy.

Eventually, the practice of bloodletting was abandoned in favour of modern approaches to medicine. However, it didn't take the application of reason and large body of evidence to convince those that still believed in the practice. What it took was them eventually dying.

Well, based on what I saw on slashdot and what I see at times when I speak to people here, it's going to take a generational change or extinction to rid this industry of the bloodletters... er, BDUF, Waterfall, Code & Fix types who don't see that what they're doing is harmful.